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Five Outstanding Individuals to Receive Honorary Degrees at OU Commencement May 11

Five Outstanding Individuals to Receive Honorary Degrees at OU Commencement May 11

Five outstanding individuals will be awarded honorary degrees at OU’s 2018 Commencement Ceremony.

NORMAN – Five outstanding individuals will join University of Oklahoma Commencement speaker David L. Boren, the longest-serving president at a flagship university in the United States and the first person in state history to serve Oklahoma as governor, U.S. senator and OU president, in being awarded honorary degrees at OU’s 2018 Commencement Ceremony, scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday, May 11, at The Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, 180 W. Brooks St.

The following will be awarded honorary degrees:

  • Catherine F. Bishop, Norman, who became known statewide as the University of Oklahoma’s spokesperson during her more than 35 years of service to OU, including her tenure as vice president for OU Public Affairs, when she oversaw public relations functions on all three campuses;
  • Honorable Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange, a native of Oklahoma Citywho has served in all three branches of government, in the process garnering widespread respect for her diplomatic skills and expertise in and efforts to improve legal systems around the world;
  • Philip O. Geier, Middlebury, Vermont, whose years of experience as an educator and his vision for the 21st century led to the creation in 2000 of what is now the world’s largest privately funded international scholarship program for undergraduates;
  • Jon and Dee Dee Stuart, Tulsa, who have been among the University’s most devoted supporters and benefactors, especially in the area of fine arts.

Bishop joined the OU staff after working briefly for The Norman Transcript, where she was assigned to cover the University. She served nine OU presidents or interim presidents during her career at OU, most notably more than 20 years for President Boren and with the guidance of the University’s First Lady, Molly Shi Boren. Bishop devoted her career to higher education, working to increase understanding of and support for the University’s missions and goals. Active in the life of the University, she served as vice president for two University staff governance groups.

In addition, she served in national and state higher education leadership posts, including for the Council for the Advancement and Support of Higher Education and the Oklahoma College Public Relations Association. 

Bishop also served in leadership posts for numerous other national, state and local professional, civic and philanthropic organizations, including the State Chamber, Norman Chamber of Commerce, Norman Public Schools Foundation and Norman United Way. She also served on the Norman Regional Hospital Healthy Community Coalition and the AMTRAK Heartland Flyer Coalition.

An OU President’s Associate, she is active at the University in the Women’s Philanthropy Network and has been a member of Sooner Stilettos and the Fast Break Club, OU women’s basketball support groups. She is the recipient of the OU Administrative Staff Council’s Superior Performance Award and the University’s Professional Staff Association Distinguished Service Award.

She was honored by the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation with the Otis Sullivant Award for Perceptivity, by the Oklahoma City chapter of the Association of Women in Communications Byliner Award and the Oklahoma College Public Relations Association’s Natalea Watkins Communicator of the Year Award.

Upon her retirement from the University, the OU Board of Regents honored her by naming the third floor of Whitehand Hall the Catherine F. Bishop Center for Public Affairs so that her name will forever be associated with promoting the OU tradition of excellence. 

Geier is the founder and executive director of the Davis United World College Scholars Program, which provides financial assistance to students from around the world who wish to study at U.S. colleges and universities. In addition to supporting some of the world’s most promising students, the program is designed to further internationalize the American college experience and to help build a network of future leaders around the world. To date, the program has allowed over 7,000 students to study at nearly 100 institutions of higher education in this country, including the University of Oklahoma.

Geier credits his partner, philanthropist Shelby M.C. Davis, with playing a vital role in the success of the program. Their partnership personifies the transformative power of innovative thinking and private philanthropy and serves as a model for others to follow.

With the support of Davis’ philanthropy, Geier also created and runs an initiative, “Projects for Peace,” whose aim is to incentivize today’s college students to design and undertake community-based summer projects as building blocks for a more peaceful world. Each year, more than 125 grants in the amount of $10,000 each are awarded to student teams whose proposals won competitions on their campuses across the nation. Beginning in 2007, nearly 1,500 projects have been incubated in all parts of the world and, like the Davis United World College Scholars Program, is an ongoing initiative experiencing tremendous growth.

Geier’s distinguished career includes university teaching and leadership positions at foundations, nonprofits and educational institutions. Cultivating cross-cultural skills and respectful attitudes among people across the United States and around the globe has remained a core vision for Geier throughout his life; to this end, he has committed his vision and time to fostering citizen diplomacy and international understanding through education.

Geier earned his bachelor of arts degree with honors from Williams College and his master of arts and doctoral degrees from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. His passion for a career in internationalism came about after serving a year as a Fulbright lecturer at the Sorbonne in Paris in 1977-78.

Miles-LaGrange has accomplished three historic “firsts” during her distinguished career:

  • In 1986, she became the first African-American woman to be elected to the Oklahoma State Senate, where she served as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and championed the causes of children and families, civil rights, and law and justice.
  • In 1993, she became the first woman to be appointed as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma.
  • And in 1994, she became the first African-American federal judge in the Western District of Oklahoma and in the six states that comprise the Tenth Circuit.

Additionally, she served as Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma from 2008 to 2015.

Miles-LaGrange has devoted her career to ensure justice and dignity to Oklahomans and beyond.

As a criminal trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice in the early 1980s, she worked to remove Nazi war criminals who had illegally entered and remained in the United States and return them to their country of origin for prosecution.

From 1999 to 2005, upon her appointment by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, she served on the International Judicial Relations Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States, where Miles-LaGrange gained significant experience in international human rights law and in the administration of international justice.

Her work continues with international rule of law initiatives involving judicial systems in Ireland, Rwanda, China, Liberia, Brazil, Kenya, Russia and Southern Sudan, and hosting judges from Russia, Turkey and Ghana, to name a few.

Her dedication to the causes of justice, racial and gender equality and ethnic and religious diversity have earned her an array of honors and awards, including the Fern Holland Courageous Lawyer Award, presented by the Oklahoma Bar Association, for her extensive work in Rwanda.

Miles-LaGrange was an honors graduate at Vassar College and earned her law degree with honors from Howard University School of Law. While at Howard, she served as an editor ofThe Howard Law Journal while working part time as a Congressional Intern for U.S. Speaker of the House Carl Albert.

Jon R. Stuart is chairman of the board and CEO of First Stuart Corp., a Tulsa-based family investment company; managing partner of Jon R. Stuart Interests LLC, principally focusing on the energy business; and trustee for the Stuart Family Foundation. For over 30 years, he has served as the Honorary Consul of Norway by royal appointment of His Royal Highness King Harald V of Norway. He also has been the longest-serving chairman of the City of Tulsa-Rogers County Port Authority and was inducted into the Arkansas River Historical Society Hall of Fame in 2009 as well as the Tulsa Hall of Fame in 2014.

Stuart served two terms on the Board of Regents governing the University of Oklahoma, Cameron University and Rogers State University, two of them (2008 and 2015) as chairman. During his service to the board, the University experienced historic enrollment growth and many significant achievements.

He specifically assumed a key leadership role in the University’s fine arts endeavors, including the acquisition of the Eugene B. Adkins Collection for the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art and the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa. He and his wife, Dee Dee, contributed funds and took a leadership role in the over 40,000-square-foot expansion of the OU art museum. The couple also was instrumental in elevating the schools of dance and drama to international status.

Over the years, the Stuarts have worked with President David Boren and First Lady Molly Shi Boren in ongoing efforts to create a sense of community on all three OU campuses. In Norman, they established the Reforestation Campaign to replace trees lost during the severe winter ice storm of 2007 and provided resources for the creation of the bronze Seed Sower sculpture that stands at the entrance to the South Oval. As a trustee of the Merkel Foundation, Stuart was a driving force in the decision by the foundation to create a new community space – the Merkel Café – at OU-Tulsa. Additionally, he provided support to a campus beautification project that will create a two-mile walking trail and two outdoor learning areas at the OU-Tulsa Schusterman Center.

The Stuarts also have given generously over the years to fund student scholarships and to support OU’s signature study abroad program in Arezzo, Italy, as well as numerous athletics projects. They have previously been honored as members of the Seed Sower Society honoring donors of $1 million or more.

Stuart was educated in Tulsa, the Culver Military Academy, OU and the University of Tulsa. At OU, he was a member of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity.

A Tulsa native, Dee Dee Stuart attended Holland Hall School in Tulsa and graduated from Wewoka High. She attended the University of New Mexico and OU, where she was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and where she met her future husband, Jon R. Stuart.

After working as a department manager at a Neiman Marcus in Dallas after college, Stuart turned her efforts toward volunteering and fundraising.

She has given generously of her vision and time to her community, including leadership positions with the Gilcrease Museum and both Holland Hall School and the Holland Hall Parents Association. She has raised funds for the Girl Scouts, Cross Town Learning Center, American Heart Association, Junior League and the Edna Gladney Home in Fort Worth.

At OU, she has served on the Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts Board of Visitors since 2002 and on the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art Board of Visitors since 2002, where she provides guidance and leadership to ensure the museum offers the community, the people of Oklahoma, and national and international audiences the opportunity to understand and enjoy the visual arts.

With her husband, she has served as a committee member for the Campaign for Scholarships, Reach for Excellence Campaign and Commitment of Fifty Campaign.

She is proud to share that their two daughters and sons-in-law are OU alumni.

Further information on Commencement and a complete schedule of college convocations are available on the university’s Commencement website at For any additional information, please contact the Graduation Office at (405) 325-0841.